What does a gun make you feel?

“I can see as well as you can. I can feel everything you feel. In fact… I feel *exactly* what you feel” – Praetor Shinzon from Star Trek: Nemesis

Almost a year ago, a friend had offered to sell me a firearm for a $150 dollars; however, even at a steal for a great gun, I had felt very uneasy about the moral proposition of owning a lethal weapon. I think we had all heard of a negligent gun owner(s) with the accompanying horror stories of a weapon(s) falling into the hands of a child, the mentally ill or violent criminal(s). The end result had usually meant the death of one or more innocents. In my mind, owning a gun was tantamount to endorsing violence as a way of life. I had struggled over a period of weeks thinking,”What should I do?” Had I feared so much for my safety and freedom in our republic?

So what had driven the desire for this purchase? First, I had thought best to undercut the opposing American progressive and conservative contradictory dogma regarding life and death. Progressives had seemed comfortable in supporting abortion but, unaccepting of execution as a form of corporal punishment. On the right, conservatives had heralded executions yet, squeamish at the thought of aborting a fetus. From my perspective, each choice had required the ability of exercising freewill, specifically, morality on an individual basis. Reflecting on the termination of life at either end of the spectrum, I had concluded both acts diminish the miracle of life. Regardless of theological beliefs, what greater measure of individual judgment was the act of choosing life over death?

After a few weeks, I had decided to purchase the firearm from my friend. The primary reasons for this purchase was not self-preservation but, the possibility of protecting my family, friends and pets. This choice was framed by a few different events. One memory was a stranger canvasing my apartment for anyone being home. After that, a few other events had tempered my perspective including violent break-ins within my apartment complex, and a double homicide ¼ mile from my home. All these experiences had cumulatively cemented my rational for moving forwarding with this decision. In owning a gun, there were no delusions of grandeur. In firing off practice rounds today, I had only thought of an opportunity to protect lives of those I care for. Regardless of your point of view, I had hoped you consider the spirit of this quote, “Is there anything you would not do for your family?” – Kahn from Star Trek Into Darkness

Read more:
Homeland Security Refutes Conspiracies About 1.6 Billion Rounds Of Ammo, Pepper Ball Gun And Riot Gear Purchases (ibtimes.com)

20131130-190312.jpg20131130-190325.jpg20131130-190339.jpg

Devil’s Den Springs @ Williston, Florida

Heading out to Devil’s Den Springs in Williston, Florida, this morning, the day had started with mildly cooler temperatures and slight humidity. Commuting over two hours from Orlando, Florida, we had arrived at our destination. After signing waivers, the staff had rented out pairs of buoyancy control devices, regulators and cylinders. After a walk through and some pictures, we had begun assembling our scuba gear. Switching to a wetsuit, the air had remained crisp but, manageable. While testing my regulator, my cylinder had accidentally lost 500 psi out of 3000. The staff had happily granted my request for a new cylinder at no charge. My friend had described my visceral response as giddy as a “school girl,” because of the phenomenal customer service. After gearing up and completing our pre-dive check, we had embarked to our descent.

Grappling the railing on the left facing wall, each of us had slowly stepped down the shaft toward the underground cavern. After clearing the first half of descent, the stone steps had transitioned to wood. The air temperature had also grown warmer because of the closed environment of the spring. Reaching the base dive platform, we had dawned our mask and fins at the water edge. Double-checking our bcds once more, we had launched ourselves into a familiar mental refrain of “dive, dive, dive!”

Leading the way into the submerged portion of the chamber, I had started releasing air from my b.c.d. Adjusting for the change in pressure, I had grasped my nose a few times blowing a puff of air into my ears. Acclimating to the warm 72 degree spring waters, we had started a lap around the limestone perimeter. Moving down the water column, our underwater flashlights had scanned the surfaces of the cavern walls. The rock formations had seemed as foreign as an alien world. The underwater silence had provided a calming, peaceful accompaniment to the surroundings. Seeing a signal from my friend, he had motioned to small red devil figurine on the edge of a limestone formation. After a quick view, we had proceeded further down in depth.

A unique portion of this adventure had stemmed from a small passthrough and gazing above to the sky. Coming upon a small illuminated passage, I had carefully maneuvered my body through a pair of rocks. Turning my head back, I had saw my friend clearing the same passage with his GroPro and flashlight. After clearing this corner, my eyes had steered to the surface. From 30 feet down, the cavern opening had made the sky appear like a floating ball of blue with white streaks.

Refocusing on our lap around the perimeter, I had signaled my buddy for current air supply. With matching numbers, 1,500 psi, we had continued by the numerous sub surface dive platforms. Moving to the end of our dive, a few groups of additional divers had entered the water. Checking again our psi, I had reached a reading of 1,000. At this threshold, we had started our ascent. At 15 feet, we had sat on one of the submerged wooden dive platforms. Working in 3 minutes for a safety stop, we had surfaced for a hot shower and change of dry clothes.

Capping off the time, money, and effort toward PADI scuba certification, this experience had satisfied my desire for returning to the water with a radiating confidence. In managing my air consumption today, I had floated like a turtle. In pursuing a suggestion for water activities earlier this year, I had pondered my animal totem. The question was which one, a turtle or a cock?

Read More:
Devil’s Den Scuba Resort (www.devilsden.com)

Animal in you (animalinyou.com)

20131129-114012.jpg

20131129-113710.jpg

20131129-113717.jpg

20131129-113730.jpg

20131129-113742.jpg

20131129-113748.jpg

20131129-113802.jpg

20131129-113830.jpg

20131129-113838.jpg

20131129-113902.jpg

20131129-113938.jpg

20131129-113948.jpg

20131129-113959.jpg

20131129-125455.jpg

Before Devil’s Den @ Williston, Florida

Returning early today from a family visit in Jacksonville, Florida, I had completed the 2nd round of preparations for my first real world scuba trip to Devil’s Den in Willston, Florida. After wrapping up Thanksgiving eating today, my friend and I had worked out plan details over email. Since acquiring Padi Open Water certification from Seminole Scuba, I had wanted to get back into the water as soon as possible. Of course, the class had just ended Sunday but, like the gym, the more reps, the more comfortable you get with anything. The trip had started to develop at noon this past Wednesday, with a short list of possible targets. After getting solid feedback from Paul at Seminole Scuba, Devil’s Den was the natural choice. It had offered on-site staff, rental equipment and open every day but, Christmas. Plus with the recent cold snap, the spring waters were surrounded by a cool-looking cavern. Part of the motivation for this dive, was to address some unfinished business. In my mind, I had finally gotten the swing of passive breathing but, not in time before the class ended. Two core technical objectives for this adventure were air and depth management.

A few things had remained like rehashing the plan verbally, the commute, and the physical walkthrough. The overall plan had consisted of the following:

  1. Pre-dive check (BWARF)
  2. Fill BCD.
  3. Take steps slowly into the water.
  4. Descend to 40 ft.
  5. For 30 minutes, a lap around the spring.
  6. If @ 30 minutes, enough air remains (i.e.1500 PSI), move up to 30 feet with a spiral ascent.
  7. Otherwise @ 1000 PSI, head to 15 feet for 3 minutes for a safety stop then surface.
  8. Climb out of the water with enough spacing.

Tomorrow, I had planned on getting up around 5 am in anticipation for a departure of 6am from Orlando, Florida. If you had read this story during or after the automated posting, I had gone to sleep long ago. Might be out of rotation tomorrow for an updated posting but, like Ellen Ripley had echoed,” With a little luck, the network will pick me up.”

Read More:
Devil’s Den Scuba Resort (www.devilsden.com)

scuba

Relax, it’s called a holiday

Driving two hours alone to my brother’s house in Jacksonville, Florida was great therapy for my mind. I had driven effortlessly listening to Daft Punk to Duran Duran along the way.

Closing out my day yesterday, my niece, Ashley had shared a few moments of her vacation to Key Largo during Veteran’s Day. She had eagerly shared pictures and video of manatees, tarpon feeding and a fire juggler. It was awesome to see her face light up with every story. The best moment of the day was getting an air tight hug from her upon arrival. That sensation had made two hours feel like 2 minutes.

Regardless of where, when and why you travel, I had thought,

“Get there in one piece!”,

“Get there, enjoy the moment!”

If the spirit of a visit had taken a back seat to a production of a meal, shopping, television, or everyone grasping their phone, why travel? I had hoped life bless you with a similar moment in time.

After all, relax, it’s called a holiday, savor it.

20131128-064538.jpg

Prepping for the apocalypse with Fish Mox?

I had started writing on WordPress for providing insight to my adventures on the road and in the home. With the discussion of Fish Mox, a fish antibiotic, some of my interests had converged into this one posting. One night, while watching an episode of Doomsday Preppers on cable, a fact had caught my attention. In preparing for the apocalypse, an individual had mentioned a survivalist tip of using fish antibiotics from a pet store. After finishing the show, I had jumped onto the internet to read about this possibility.

Before proceeding, I had wanted to outline a couple of obvious statements regarding this discussion.

  1. I am not a medical profession, just some guy behind a keyboard.
  2. Always consult a medical profession when ill!
  3. Currently, I have the privilege of having decent healthcare.
  4. I don’t believe everything on the internet.
  5. I don’t believe everything on television.

Continuing, my keen interest in fish antibiotics had come from traveling. I had really enjoyed being outdoors from hiking trails to fresh water springs to even a top of a mountain. Nothing I had dreaded worse than being on a road trip, or about to travel, then being stifled by some sinus infection or strep throat.

After getting over my first cold at the beginning of the year, I had come to the conclusion of ordering Fish Mox (i.e. Amoxicillin) from fishmoxfishflex.com. The deciding factors for the purchase were the online discussions relating to the quality grade of contents and pill labeling, despite the manufacturer stating for fish use only. For a few months, I had set this bottle in my kitchen corner. After a couple of trips, I had taken the sealed bottle with me. The opportunity for usage had finally arisen after a cold front this fall. The Sunday night following this change, I had developed congestion the next morning with an awful brown nasal discharge. At this point, I had decided to cycle on the Fish Mox. By day three, I had started to feel better. Some of my friends, during that same weather transition, had fared far worse. One had gone to the hospital receiving a prescription for Amoxicillin. The other, visiting a family doctor, had received the same prescription. Being funny and smart, I had enjoyed seeing my doctor; however, for the price and time, in this case $30 for a bottle of Fish Mox, I had figured keep a container around in case of emergencies.

After sharing some of the above information with a co-worker and my brother, the response was be wary of careless use of antibiotics. The consensus was save the Amoxicillin when appropriate, versus overuse. That opinion was echoed by many medical professionals from various media resources. With respect to bacteria tolerant of antibiotics, that time had arrived with this recent article, “Why the post-antibiotic world is the real-life version of the zombie apocalypse.” As species, we had opened the door for a “super-bug” pandemic with over prescription of medications and animal application of antibiotics. Should this apocalypse develop, consider a statement by Jim Morrison of the Doors, he had stated eloquently,”Did you have a good world when you died?”

Read More:
Why the post-antibiotic world is the real-life version of the zombie apocalypse (theweek.com)
Fish Antibiotics (preparednesspro.com)
Amoxicillin (drugs.com)

20131126-192049.jpg 20131126-192100.jpg 20131126-192107.jpg

Big Shoals State Park @ White Springs, Florida

One of the reasons for traveling to White Springs, Florida was the mention of white water rapids at Big Shoals State Park. After seeing the low level watermarks for the Suwannee River at Stephen Foster State Park, my expectations had diminished for this excursion, from canoeing to just hiking. Driving down County Road 135, I had not seen too many signs for navigating to the park. After taking a right onto Old Godwind Bridge Road, the pavement had turned to gravel. In the middle of the road had laid a dog and her four puppies. I had started to question out loud,” Is this the road to a state park?” The dogs had seemed unaffected by our encroaching vehicle. In a moment of clarity, I had switched off driving responsibilities with my friend to handle the dogs on the road. Snapping my fingers at the oldest dog, I had pointed to a nearby house. The dog, on cue, had responded wonderfully, moving her entourage out of the way. Another half mile down the road, the sign for Big Shoals had come into view.

After parking, we had walked down toward the canoe launch area. The Suwannee River’s appearance at this location had appeared more robust than the offering over at Stephen Foster. Walking back up toward the Pavilion, a small wooden fence had provided a great view of an overlook with 50 – 60 foot drop off to the river below. After this stop, we had proceeded out onto Big Shoals Hiking trail. Along the way, we had seen the remnants of an old bridge. Standing amongst the trees, the huge pillars had remained a testament to the history of the area. A mile in, we had heard the rumble of water. In excitement, we had both started jogging to another overlook with a similar drop-off like before. Down below, we had noticed the foaming rapids break upon the rocks. Wanting to get more pictures, we had scaled down the side of the limestone bluffs. At the water’s edge, we had both taken the opportunity for some pictures and video. The rapid were relatively nice but, nowhere near their optimal peak for canoeing. According to Florida State Parks website, to earn the class III classification for Big Shoals rapids, the water level had required being between 59 – 61 feet.

Scaling back up the estimated 80 foot bluffs, we had decided to double back on the hiking trail to the Pavilion. Near the Pavilion’s picnic area, another structure had caught my attention. The sign had read, “Bat Exhibit.” In the Florida Keys, I had seen another tower but, with a different architecture. Even though I was unable to see the bats, their sound echoed outside of the structure. The take away, bugs, specifically mosquitoes, were almost non-existent in the immediate area. Or maybe we were just lucky. In the end, Big Shoals State Park had offered a dynamic environment for canoeing, hiking and camping. If you had wanted to hit the rapids, suggest calling ahead for a water level report.

Big Shoals State Park
Address: 11330 S.E. County Road 135, White Springs, Florida 32096
Phone: (386) 397-4331

Read more:
Big Shoals State Park (Florida State Parks)
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park @ White Springs, Florida (GarzaFX)

20131124-161350.jpg 20131124-161410.jpg 20131124-161419.jpg 20131124-161431.jpg 20131124-161507.jpg 20131124-161528.jpg 20131124-161537.jpg 20131124-161545.jpg20131124-161629.jpg 20131124-161640.jpg 20131124-161558.jpg 20131124-161606.jpg 20131124-161651.jpg 20131124-161701.jpg 20131124-161711.jpg20131124-162405.jpg

Juniper Creek Canoe Run in the Ocala National Forest @ Marion, Florida

Closing out a day on a road trip for Veteran’s Day, I was curious about a sign for Juniper Creek Canoe Run. On the way back from Salt Springs on SR 19, I had looked for an excuse to pull over for the restroom. The brown signage on the left side of the road for the creek was that excuse. What was the connecton to Juniper Springs Recreation area? I had remembered Juniper Run at the recreation area. From that visit, the Run was unimpressive for a possible canoe excursion. That portion of the waterway within Juniper Springs Recreation area had become shallow and unmanageable. This canoe launch area had shown a much wider and deeper view of the creek, worthy of a second look. The view was postcard perfect with glistening water, powder blue skies and the ever present chirping of birds. From reading around the web, Juniper Creek Canoe Run had provided trips of a few hours plus, a possibility of shuttle ride back to the launching area. With the colder weather heading for Central Florida, I had pondered the possibility of canoeing through this portion of the Ocala National Forest again.

Located at Latitude :  29.183745   Longitude : -81.688533, just off Florida State Road 19.

Read More:
Juniper Run (US Forest Service)
Juniper Springs, Ocala National Forest, FL  (GarzaFX)
Salt Springs Recreation Area in the Ocala National Forest @ Salt Springs, Florida (GarzaFX)

20131123-175454.jpg 20131123-175501.jpg

20131123-175447.jpg